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DVD released by Lions Gate Entertainment
|Directed by||Brett Leonard|
|Written by||Hans Rodionoff|
|Music by||Roger Mason|
|Edited by||Martin Connor|
Lions Gate Films
|Distributed by||Lions Gate Films|
|Box office||$1.1 million|
Man-Thing is a 2005 American horror film, directed by Brett Leonard and featuring the Marvel Comics creature created by Stan Lee, Roy Thomas, and Gerry Conway. The plot is based loosely on a storyline by Steve Gerber, who wrote the most well-known series of Man-Thing comics. Agents of an oil tycoon vanish while exploring a swamp marked for drilling. The local sheriff investigates and faces a Seminole legend come to life: Man-Thing, a shambling swamp-monster.
The film appeared on the Sci Fi Channel in 2005 under the Sci Fi Pictures label. It starred Matthew Le Nevez, Rachael Taylor, and Jack Thompson. The film was released theatrically in a handful of International markets.
At Dark Waters, a Native American sacred land containing an enigmatic swamp spirit, a teenager is murdered by a plant-like monster. The following day, young replacement sheriff Kyle Williams reaches Bywater and meets with deputy sheriff Fraser, who tells him the previous sheriff is among 47 missing persons since oil tycoon Fred Schist bought the ancient tribal lands from shaman and Seminole chieftain Ted Sallis, the first to disappear. Schist claimed Sallis had sold legally and escaped with the money, and asked the sheriff for help: Local protestors opposed his perfectly legal activities, and mestizo scoundrel Renee Laroque was sabotaging his facilities. Williams investigated this while trying to find an explanation for the missing people, some of which were found brutally murdered with plants growing from inside their bodies. Photographer Mike Ploog and shaman Pete Horn tell Williams local legends about the guardian spirit, suggesting that it could be real.
As sabotage and murder continue, Williams investigates the swamp with Fraser and finds the previous sheriff's corpse. Medical examiner Val Mayerik admits that the previous sheriff had ordered him to file the deaths as alligator attacks, even if Mayerik believed otherwise.
Williams and Fraser try to track Laroque, who lives in the swamp, by using a canoe. At the same time, Schist sends local thugs the Thibadeux brothers to track and murder Laroque. The monster in the swamp finds the Thibadeux and kills them. Williams is ensnared by Laroque, who admits having helped Schist buy the lands, but then claims that Sallis opposed to the sale; Laroque insists that the guardian spirit would keep on murdering until Schists stops desecrating the sacred swamp. Fraser tries to help Laroque, but the Man-Thing timely appears and murders Fraser; Laroque knocks Williams down and escapes. Williams wakes up and finds Ploog, who has blurry pictures of the monster; the sheriff seizes the photographs and forbids Ploog to come back to the swamp.
The following day, Williams interviews Horn and Schist, with schoolteacher Teri Richards' help, for whom he starts having romantic feelings. Horn goes to the swamp and tries to stop the Man-Thing with prayers and sacrificing his life but, although the monster kills Horn, he is not affected. That night, Mayerik autopsies the old sheriff and finds a bullet. He tries to tell Williams, but he is back at the swamp, unreachable; he tells Richards, and she goes to the swamp to tell Williams. Meanwhile, Ploog had returned to the swamp, trying to get a picture of the monster, but instead he startles Fred Schist, who was in the swamp to murder Laroque – Schist shoots and kills Ploog. Soon afterward, Laroque ambushes and defeats Schist's son and minion Jake.
Williams finds Ploog's corpse and reasons that Schist murdered Ploog. He then meets Richards, who tells him about Mayerik's autopsy. Williams concludes that Schist is guilty of several murders, trying to incriminate Laroque simply to avoid punishment – in fact, by Schist's confession to Laroque, he murdered Sallis and buried him in Dark Waters (which, due to the magic embedded in the soil, made him go back as the Man-Thing). Richards reveals that she can guide him to Laroque's lair but the Man-Thing starts chasing them. He chases them to the drilling tower at Dark Waters, where Schist is leveling his weapon at Laroque in an attempt to prevent Laroque to blow it away with dynamite. Laroque nonetheless tries to detonate his bomb and is shot and wounded by Schist; Schist then wounds Williams.
However, the Man-Thing arrives and brutally murders Schist by filling his body with oil. Then, the Man-Thing moves toward Williams and Richards. Laroque sacrifices himself shouting at the monster and blowing the bomb. The monster survives the flames, but then is absorbed back to the land.
Deviations from the comic book
The movie changed the setting from the Florida Everglades to Louisiana (though the film was actually made in Australia), and the creature's powers from burning those who "know fear" to being able to manipulate the swamp's vegetation. The movie also makes no mention of A.I.M. or its attempt to steal the super soldier serum. The character is also represented in a significantly more antagonistic light than the comic-book version. Man-Thing's former identity remained Ted Sallis, though in the film he is portrayed as a Native American shaman instead of a scientist. Consequently, the Man-Thing's origin is somewhat different, though the Nexus of All Realities is still involved. Major characters are named after Man-Thing artists Mike Ploog and Val Mayerik and writer Steve Gerber.
- Mark Stevens as Ted Sallis/Man-Thing
- Matthew Le Nevez as Sheriff Kyle Williams
- Rachael Taylor as Teri Elizabeth Richards
- Jack Thompson as Frederic Schist
- Rawiri Paratene as Pete Horn
- Alex O'Loughlin as Deputy Eric Fraser
- Steve Bastoni as Rene LaRoque
- Robert Mammone as Mike Ploog
- Pat Thompson as Jake Schist
- William Zappa as Steve Gerber
- John Batchelor as Wayne Thibadeaux
- Ian Bliss as Rodney Thibadeaux
- Brett Leonard as Val Mayerik
- Imogen Bailey as Sarah
- James Coyne as Billy James
- Cheryl Craig as Michele
- Gary Waddell as Cajun Pilot
- Xoqui Pesce as Nurse
Plans changed radically for this project over the years since intentions to make a film about Man-Thing were announced back in 2001. It was intended to be a direct-to-video release. then later was planned as a theatrical release.
In January 2004, producer Avi Arad said[where?] that Man-Thing is a bit more of a departure from the original comic than Marvel's other films in that it was a horror movie with a menacing central character. In April 2004, Arad stated[where?] that the film had been completed, with the finished print received and waiting to be tested with audiences, after which an exact release date would be determined. The film was rated R for violence, grisly images, language and some sexuality by the MPAA.
The US release date was set for Halloween (October 31) 2004, but when Marvel Enterprises released its second=quarter financial report, Man-Thing was included in the 2005 line-up with a release date "to be decided". The film was not included in the release schedule in Marvel's 2004 third-quarter financial report. In late 2004, Christopher Petzel of Fierce Entertainment, one of the other production companies involved, said he anticipated an early 2005 release by Lions Gate. It eventually was re-branded a SciFi Pictures' film for cable TV.
Special effects makeup was by the Make-Up Effects Group of Australia. The Man-Thing was built as a full-size creature suit, performed by Mark Stevens, a 7'1" (216 cm) Australian actor and ex-wrestler.
Although no full-digital Man-Thing model was made due to budgetary constraints that they had, the suit was combined with digital moving branches and tendrils for certain sequences, also well as digital augmentation for the eyes. Although filming was originally intended to be done in New Orleans, the production relocated to Sydney, Australia, where production wrapped in 2003. It was the first production to use the new Kurnell studios, and enlisted regional actors for virtually every role.
In 2007, it was released as a two-DVD special edition in several European countries.
The film's budget was estimated at $7.5 million. Man-Thing reported a substantial loss. While the film was released direct to television in North America, it played theatrically in three International markets where it accumulated only $1,123,136 in box office grosses. This ultimately resulted in about $6,376,864 in total loss.
The film opened on October 26, 2005, in United Arab Emirates in 12 theaters, where it grossed $34,760 in its opening weekend. In its three-week run, it grossed $92,519.
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